Design is not a craft

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Ok, ok, don’t shout at me. But honestly, is design still a craft? The bulk of what design people, outside of the coterie of actual makers, I mean. Stuff that I go into work at least five days a week to do. Design when it’s your job as opposed to your ‘calling’.

Have been thinking about this a bit and am drawing to a conclusion (which doesn’t mean I won’t change my mind about it. Like all these thought-walks, if I stumble on some other prospect of it, maybe I’ll see it in a new light) it’s really not. A craft that is - unless you subscribe to the definition of craft as the skill of deception. But that’s a whole other train of typing. 

What really sparked this off was listening to a track from Cate Le Bon’s Crab Day album, where she sings that ‘love is not love when it’s a coathanger (and I know she said it was really only a ridiculous juxtaposition of “something as grandiose as love compared” with one) but it was such a striking line - which I immediately overthought as a metaphor about the idea of someone thinking the basis of a relationship could be that disposable or ubiquitous.

And so, by a torturous twist of logic, that design is not craft when it’s free of actual craft. It’s just processing patterns. Arranging stuff. Creating coat hangers for things.

I’ve been feeling for a while that design has become a sort-of emotional stand-in for craft, as a kind of replacement therapy for the fact that most design is not a hands-on experience for its designer. Well, not beyond hands-on mouse, stylus or keyboard.

Desk-tops (metaphoric or actual) are not work-benches. Likely as not the only hand tool you might pick up is a sharpie and you can’t cut a piece of timber with that. 

Anyway, it’s rather by the by what I think. The chances of these brain-fart-speculations shaping whether or no you think design is still a craft are pretty slim, as the likelihood of you stumbling onto this are slim. 

According to worldometer.info (do have a look. It’s mesmerising) as I type this number, 3,785, 520 blog posts will have already been written today (Tuesday 29th November, 9.50am) which puts some perspective on things and certainly helped burst my bubble of self-regarding importance, lol

But I still love design. Thinking about it, working out what it’s for, for me, being engaged in it. It’s still meaningful for me. I guess it’s important to recognise that craft is somewhere else, I thing I engage with when I actually make things. It’s a regret the two aren’t as close as they used to be, and it helps me to be able to tell love from coat hangers. 


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